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3 things for the Mavericks as they take on the Minnesota Timberwolves

The Dallas Mavericks head to Minnesota to try and grab win number two.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Dallas Mavericks have the tough task of finishing up a home-road back to back, taking on the Minnesota Timberwolves (5-3). On top of that, Minnesota enters the tilt well rested, having last played Wednesday.

Last night Dallas played a roller coaster of a game, constantly playing catch up, and ultimately losing to the New Orleans Pelicans by five. Now, sitting not so pretty with a league worst record of 1-9, Dennis Smith Jr. and his band of misfits must dig deep and find ways to improve.

Here are a few things to keep in mind while you watch tonight.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Minnesota Timberwolves Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

What happens when no one plays defense?

Yes, we'd be justified calling them the Allas Mavericks, because there's no D. But there's also a reason you can't find a D in the name Minnesota Timberwolves—I mean it's basic spelling, get the picture.

This matchup features two of the worst defensive teams this season. It's odd considering Minnesota has marquee defensive stopper Jimmy Butler, and Tom Thibodeau's defensive pedigree at the helm, but it's clear that culture hasn't stuck yet. This season the Timberwolves sit at 29th in the league in defensive rating (113.5) and dead last in defensive effective field goal percentage (56.2 percent). Perhaps that's the product of having two young stars in Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns who haven't exactly bought in on the defensive end.

The picture in Dallas isn't much prettier. Through ten games the Mavs sit just ahead of Minnesota in both categories mentioned above, coming in 28th in defensive rating (113) and 29th in defensive effective field goal percentage (56 percent).

Tonight something has got to give.

A team full of centers with no answers

The construction of this roster was always a bit puzzling. The front office opted for a handful of undersized point guards and a stable of centers. And yet still that position remains the most unpredictable on any given night, both in terms of production and who Rick Carlisle will give opportunity to.

Last night Carlisle went back to Nerlens Noel in the starting lineup, but only played him for 13 minutes the whole game. Dwight Powell? 12 minutes. Instead, Carlisle rode with minutes hungry Salah Mejri. And Mejri responded, putting up seven points, 13 rebounds, and five blocks in 22 minutes. He was probably the chosen one last night due to Rick Carlisle's catch phrase: the matchup. So it's just as likely we won't see him again for a few games.

Who gets the minutes tonight is anyone's guess. But it would be nice to see some stability at such an anchoring position.

DSJ's growing pains

It's nearly a guarantee that most rookies will have an adjustment period, especially at the point guard position. What wasn't clear is how Dennis Smith Jr. would respond.

One of the biggest knocks on DSJ in college was his demeanor and attitude when things weren't going well on the floor and the team was losing. This is our first real glimpse at Smith Jr. in those circumstances. All signs so far have been positive. He's continued to play through a slump with confidence and energy. His body language and maturity has been impressive. But struggle and losing streaks can weigh on a player. It will be something to continually monitor this year, especially for a player the team has big plans for in the future.

How to watch

Tonight’s game is on Fox Sports Southwest if you live in the Dallas area and on NBA League Pass if you don’t. Tip off is at 7:00pm Central.